On What's Invisible At Harvard: A Conversation

Props to the intelligence of this conversation, but I think you were on to something about "eating its own tail," though not maybe in the way you think. Elements of the dialogue read like an exercise in privilege itself. Having to clean toilets instead of going on an Outward Bound excursion? Working two jobs? Yes, you did these things - while you were enrolled at the most elite institution of higher learning in this country, a place that is a byword par excellence for privilege and access. Consider that many, MANY people who lack your academic pedigrees work several jobs, many of them more unsavory than domestic housework, and at the end there's no brand-certified diploma and network of alumni awaiting them. They don't have access to discussions of "spaces"; in most cases they lack the social capital to advocate effectively for themselves. Thank you for shedding light on the particularly pernicious and hypocritical ways that Harvard's culture worked to keep privilege invisible (which, QED, is what privilege always is), but my sympathy is provoked mostly by your naivete in not expecting you'd find this atmosphere at a place whose whole existence is built around exclusion and perceived superiority. (Though, in fairness, what 18-year-old can tell privilege from a can of Pringles?)

Posted on July 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm 12